Estonian Public Broadcasting announced the death of Ivo Varts, a progressive rock drummer from Estonia. He died in Tallin on January 15th of an accidental fall.
Born on December 1st, 1961, in the town of Rakvere, Varts performed with some of Estonia’s most popular progressive rock bands, including Ruja, Kaseke, and In Spe. He also played with various other rock and blues bands, such as Mahavok, Propeller, Haak, Compromise Blue and satirical rock band Apelsin.
Progressive rock band Renaissance announced today that its leading composer and guitarist Michael Dunford died on Tuesday, November 20, 2012. He had just returned home from the first part of the band’s North American tour and suffered a what was reported as a massive instantaneous cerebral hemorrhage, while dining at his home in Surrey, England on Monday night. Mr. Dunford was rushed to a hospital where doctors declared his condition irreparable and terminal. He passed away at 11:06 pm GMT, surrounded by his family.
Michael Dunford was born, raised and educated in Surrey. His first job was selling clothing in a local shop followed by a period as an airside driver at Heathrow Airport which enabled him to form a “skiffle” group which led to his first rock band called Nashville Teens in the early 1960s. Nashville Teens reached #6 on U.K. singles charts with their version of Tobacco Road.
He later formed other bands including The Pentad and The Plebes. One night he went to see the original band Renaissance perform locally and ended up joining them in the early 1970s. The original band members were Jim McCarty, Louis Cennamo, John Hawken, Keith Relf and Jane Relf.
Dunford and vocalist Annie Haslam became the primary creative force of Renaissance in 1971. The band defined its sound as a fusion of folk rock and classical music. Dunford and Haslam established Renaissance as a world class recording and touring progressive rock act, selling out venues like New York’s Carnegie Hall and The Royal Albert Hall in London.
Renaissance released over a dozen albums, including timeless classics like Turn of the Cards and Scheherazade, before eventually parting ways in the mid-1980s. However, Haslam and Dunford continued to write new material together and in 2001 reunited the band to record a new studio album, tour the following year, and release a live album.
After another sabbatical, the refreshed line-up was introduced to the world and captured for posterity on Turn of the Cards and Scheherazade and Other Stories Live 2011.
Earlier this fall, Dunford and the band completed recording their first new studio album in twelve years. Grandine il Vento was recorded at Studio X in Ridgewood New Jersey, USA. All the music on the new album except for one track was composed and arranged by Dunford and features him on acoustic guitars and backing vocals.
Michael Dunford is survived by his wife Clare, two sons William (13) and Oliver (10), and sister Judy Kendall. Services will be held at Woking Crematorium at a date to be announced.
Legendary Uruguayan rock and jazz drummer Osvaldo Fattoruso died this morning in Montevideo of cancer. He was 64.
Jorge Osvaldo Fattoruso was born May 12th, 1948 in Montevideo, Uruguay. He was one of the founders of rock band Los Shakers in the 1960s, which introduced rock music to Latin America. The band featured Osvaldo on vocals and guitar, his brother Hugo also on vocals and guitar, Roberto Capobianco on bass and Carlos Villa on drums.
In 1969 Osvaldo relocated to the United States. In 1970, Osvaldo and Hugo became Airto Moreira and Flora Purim’s backing band, appearing on several of their early to mid-1970s albums.
It was seminal band Opa, however, which got Osvaldo Fattoruso international recognition. Osvaldo formed Opa, together with his brother Hugo and Ringo Thielmann. Opa was a legendary fusion band that combined rock, jazz and Latin American rhythms such as Afro-Uruguayan candombe as well as Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian beats. Osvaldo Fattoruso became Opa’s drummer. Opa signed to Milestone in 1976 and recorded two albums produced by Airto Moreira, Goldenwings in 1976 and Magic Time in 1977.
Osvaldo Fattoruso returned to Uruguay in 1981 and moved to Buenos Aires (Argwetina) in 1982, where he worked with some of the leading rock musicians of the time, including Litto Nebbia, Luis Alberto Spinetta, Alejandro Lerner, León Gieco, Fito Páez and his fellow Uruguayan Rubén Rada.
During the 1990s, Osvaldo worked with Uruguayan artist Mariana Ingold, with whom he released over a dozen albums.
In 2000, Osvaldo, his bother Hugo and his nephew Francisco (Hugo’s son) formed the new Trío Fattoruso.
South African drummer Cedric Sharpley died from a heart attack on March 13th, 2012. Cedric Sharpley was the drummer for Druid, a 1970s progressive rock band from the UK that was influenced by Yes. He later joined Tubeway Army, the group led by electropop pioneer Gary Numan.
Cedric Sharpley was born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1952. He moved to the UK and settled in Hertfordshire during the 1960s. He formed progressive rock band Druid with bassist Neil Brewer, singer and guitarist Dane Stevens, and keyboardist Andrew McCrorie Shand. Druid released two albums on EMI: Toward The Sun (1975) and Fluid Druid (1976).
Druid disbanded in the mid-1970s. Cedric Sharpley joined Tubeway Army and played drums on Gary Numan’s “Cars.” He performed with Numan from 1979 to 1992. After Tubeway Army disbanded, Sharpley, synthesist Chris Payne, guitarist Russell Bell and keyboard-player Denis Haines, formed synthpop band Dramatis.
Luis Alberto Spinetta, one of the most important figures in Argentine rock music died today, February 8th, 2012 of lung cancer. He was 62.
Composer, guitarist, poet and vocalist Luis Alberto Spinetta was one of the pioneers of rock music in Argentina and was a member of legendary bands Almendra, Pescado Rabioso, Invisible, and Spinetta Jade. He was also a well-respected musician throughout Latin America.
Luis Alberto Spinetta was born on January 23rd, 1950 in Buenos Aires. His nickname was El Flaco (the skinny guy).
In 1967 he formed a band called Almendra with school friends. This was one of the first rock bands in South America that composed its own songs and recorded in Spanish. Almendra released two influential albums: Almendra (1969) and Almendra II (1970).
The next band he formed was Pescado Rabioso, a rock group that had harder sound. Pescado Rabioso released Desatormentándonos (1972), Pescado II (1973) and Artaud (1973).
In 1974 Spinetta started a new band called Invisible. The sound was more laid back, combining blues rock with engaging ballads and some jazz elements. Invisible released three albums: Invisible, Durazno Sangrando and El Jardín De Los Presentes. Durazno Sangrando is considered one of Spinetta’s finest works. On El Jardín De Los Presentes Spinetta introduced new elements such as bandoneón, which added an Argentine folk music flavor. Spinetta also showed his skills as a guitarist, with beautiful instrumental solos.
After dissolving Invisible in 1976, Spinetta embraced jazz fusion, combining rock, jazz and Latin American rhythms. He released one of his finest works, A 18´ del Sol (1977) and later formed fusion band Spinetta Jade. This new band released Alma de Diamante (1980), Los Niños Que Escriben En El Cielo (1981), Bajo Belgrano (1983) and Madre en Años Luz (1984). The first two albums were solid fusion. The latter headed in a pop direction.
In the mid-1980s, Spinetta dissolved Spinetta Jade and produced a series of solo albums. He formed a new band in the late 1990s called Spinetta y los Socios del Desierto. The group released three albums: Socios del Desierto (1996), San Cristóforo (1998, live) and Los Ojos (1999).
Spinetta y los Socios del Desierto disbanded in late 1999. Spinetta returned to his solo career, releasing Silver Sorgo (2001), Para los Árboles (2003), Camalotus (2004), Pan (2006), Un Mañana (2008) and Spinetta y las Bandas Eternas (2010).
Spanish synthesist and guitarist Carlos Guirao died January 17th, 2012 of cancer. He was 57. Guirao was one of the pioneers of electronic music in Spain. Together with synthesist Michel Huygen and guitarist Albert Giménez, Guirao formed the best known Spanish electronic group, Neuronium.
The first Neuronium album was titled Quasar 2C361, (EMI-Harvest, 1977). Next came Vuelo Químico (chemical flight) released in 1978. It was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s literary work and featured the legendary Nico (The Velvet Underground).
After Vuelo Químico, Albert Giménez left the group and Neuronium became a duo. In 1980 Neuronium released Digital Dream under its own indie label, Neuronium Records. Digital Dream featured guitarist Santi Picó as a guest.
Guirao continued his work with Neuronium, releasing The Visitor (1981) and Chromium Echoes (1982).
In 1982, Guirao left Neuronium. That same year, he released Revelation, a solo album that continued the Neuronium sound. Revelation featured Guirao on synthesizers and Jose Maria Ciria and Manolo Torres on drums.
In the mid-1980s, Guirao’s electronic music shifted from space music to techno. He founded a duo called Programa with José Antonio López Ibañez. Programa released Síntesis Digital (1983) and Acrópolis (1985).
Carlos Guirao exited Programa after Acrópolis. Although he didn’t officially release any recordings for several years, he never stopped making music. He worked as an art restorer and played guitar and keyboards with a group of friends in a rock band called Cherish Band. The band’s repertory included covers of Pink Floyd pieces.
Guirao released a new solo album of symphonic electronic music titled Symphony in 2010. Symphony featured Guirao on keyboards with J. Artigas on acoustic guitar, J. Durban on drums, and F. Montraveta on keyboards.
Other recent recordings include his collaboration with his former Programa bandmate Joseph Loibant (the new artistic name of José Antonio López Ibañez) titled “Alchemy” (At-Mooss Records), the double CD “Brumas” (Mists) inspired by the fresh air of deep forests in imaginary worlds, and “El vuelo de las almas miticas” (the flight of the mythical souls) composed in 2007 and arranged and orchestrated in 2011.
Carlos Guirao left several unreleased musical works. More information and photos with Klaus Schulze and Vangelis are available at: http://carlosguirao.blogspot.com
Obituaries of progressive rock, fusion and electronic music artists who left us in 2011.
Renowned British guitarist Gary Moore died Sunday, February 6th, 2011 while on vacation in Spain. He was 58. Gary Moore was a member of progressive fusion band Colosseum II, which was formed in 1975 by the former Colosseum drummer and leader, Jon Hiseman. With Colosseum II, Moore recorded the albums Strange New Flesh (1976), Electric Savage (1977), and War Dance (1977). He was also a member of Thin Lizzy and recorded a series of successful blues albums.
Welsh guitarist and singer Micky Jones died Wednesday, March 10th, 2011. He was 63. Jones was one of the founders of Welsh psychedelic and progressive rock band, Man. Man combined psychedelia, progressive rock, blues jams and country-rock.
Mexican vocalist Rita Guerrero died March 11th, 2011 of breast cancer. She was 47. Rita Guerrero was the lead singer and one of the founders of iconic Mexican progressive band Santa Sabina. The group played music described as a mix of Gothic rock, jazz, progressive rock and experimental. Santa Sabina released 7 albums: Santa Sabina, produced by Adrian Belew (1992), Símbolos (1994), Concierto Acústico (1994), Babel (1995), MTV Unplugged (1997), Mar Adentro en la Sangre (2000), Espiral (2003), and XV Aniversario En Vivo (2005).
Argentine bass player Lalo de los Santos died March 25th, 2011. He was the bass player for Pablo el Enterrador, one of Argentina’s best known progressive rock bands. Lalo de los Santos played with Pablo el Enterrador from 1973 through 1980. The band recorded its debut album, Pablo el Enterrador, in 1979, but it was not released until 1983.
Italian keyboardist Alberto Bonomi died Sunday, June 26th, in an automobile accident. He was 48. Bonomi was the keyboardist for the well-known Italian progressive fusion band, D.F.A.( Duty Free Area). The group released Lavori in Corso (“Work in Progress”) (Scolopedra, 1997), Duty Free Area (Mellow Records, 1998), Kaleidoscope (Moonjune Records, 2000), Work in Progress – Live (Moonjune Records, 2001), 4th (MoonJune Records, 2008).
French composer and keyboardist Francois Cahen died July 13, 2011. He was a leading figure in French avant-garde music and was Magma’s first piano player. With Magma he recorded on Magma (1970) and 1001° Centigrades (1971). Cahen and former Magma saxophonist Yochko Seffer formed the legendary band Zao. With Zao he recorded Z=7L (1973), Osiris (1975), Shekina (1975), Kawana (1976), Live! (1976), Typhareth (1977), Akhenaton (1994). Cahen later worked with Ethnic Duo & Ethnic Trio.
Dutch bass player Ron Van Eck died July 20th, 2011. He was one of the founders of legendary Dutch progressive fusion band Supersister. The group’s debut album, Present From Nancy, came out in 1970. Next came To the Highest Bidder (1971) Pudding en Gisteren (1972). The next album, Iskander (1973), was more jazz-rock oriented. It was a concept album based upon the life of Alexander the Great.
Paolo Raciti, masterful keyboardist of Italian symphonic-progressive rock band Eris Pluvia died August 3rd, 2011. He was 46. Eris Pluvia was one of the finest Italian progressive rock bands of the 1990s. The Genoa-based band released Rings of Earthly Light in 1991. The most recent album was Third Eye Light (2000).
German electronic music pioneer Conrad Schnitzler died August 4th, 2011. He was an experimentalist and was also a member of two seminal German electronic music bands: Kluster and Tangerine Dream. Schnitzler studied under Stockhausen and composed more than 90 albums of solo recordings. He completed his final work, “00/830,” just four days before his death.
Betty Thatcher died August 15, 2011. She was an English singer-songwriter, who wrote most of the lyrics for the UK progressive rock band Renaissance. Some of her most memorable pieces include “Prologue”, “A song for all seasons” and “Novella.”
Classical music composer and multi-instrumentalist David Vickerman Bedford died October 1st, 2011. David Bedford worked with Mike Oldfield during the 1970s. He orchestrated the symphonic version of Tubular Bells for the album titled The Orchestral Tubular Bells, released in 1975. He also composed various classical/progressive rock concept albums, including Star’s End (1975) with Mike Oldfield and Chris Cutler, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1975) with Mike Oldfield and The Odyssey (1976) with Mike Oldfield and Andy Summers.
American keyboardist Moogy Klingman died in New York City, November 15th, 2011.. Klingman was the original keyboardist for Todd Rundgren and his progressive rock band Utopia. He played on 10 Todd Rundgren albums, as well as several Utopia albums. Klingman was 61.
American keyboardist Moogy Klingman died in New York City November 15th 2011. Mr. Klingman was best known for his work with musician and producer Todd Rundgren. Mr. Klingman was 61.
Mr. Klingman was the original keyboardist for Todd Rundgren and his progressive rock band Utopia. He played on 10 Todd Rundgren albums, as well as several Utopia albums. Mr. Klingmane co-wrote “You gotta have Friends” with Buzzy Linhart. He also produced and played keyboards for Bette Midler on her “Songs for the New Depression”.
Mr. Klingman played keyboards and produced a record for Bob Dylan titled “Buckets of Rain” – a duet Dylan did with Bette Midler. He was musical director and associate producer, as well as keyboardist on “Music from Free Creek”, an album where he played and recorded with Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Keith Emerson among others. He has also played live for Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Buzzy Linhart and in the 1090s – with members of the Allman Brothers/Gov’t Mule and a summer tour with blues legend, Bo Diddley.
In recent years, Mr. Klingman performed with a jam rock band he cofounded called The Peaceniks.